ClubHotel Riu Garopa
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Historical Traveler Reviews ClubHotel Riu Garopa Santa Maria
Five days of heaven, a couple of hell
Landing on Sal, you've probably read is like landing on the moon, it is! You can't see any greenery, or buildings and you begin to think that this would have been a much more dramatic 'Lost', if you had to try and survive with virtually no natural resources other than Salt, they probably wouldn't have made it past the first episode - so I guess not...
Anyway I digress - don't get your entry visa before you travel you'll pay about £50 lose your passport for 10 days. When you arrive, go to the door on the left hand side by passport control and pay there - it costs €25 and took about 15 minutes.
Back to Sal -the rest of Sal is either sand, construction or a hotel...
Some of the hotels look like prison camps...
We were relieved to reach the Riu, the hotel is a gigantic moorish design, quite charming in an unusual way and after the drive past so much construction and scary looking hotels was a very welcome sight.
The cab from the airport to the hotel costs 12 Euros, but an extra Euro tip gets a BIG smile !
Entering the reception you are greeted with a delicious fruit punch and the reception itself is remarkable, a lovely fountain in the middle, sparklingly clean and the staff on arrival were the warmest I have met anywhere.
The rooms again were of a good standard, very comfortable beds and sofa, amazing amounts of storage space - no fighting for coathangers, a great shower and a nice balcony. The cleaners do a fantastic job as the wind blows sand absolutely everywhere and after they have been it's brand new again.
That night we had dinner in the Espargos restaurant - excellent salad bar, hit and miss on the hot food. Over the week we tried 3 of the 4 themed restaurants. Mandalay was like a cheap all you can eat chinese buffet, but it's redeeming feature was the sushi, Cabo Verde was the best - but only if you like fish and seafood. The Grill was ok, but meat in general is not as good quality as most Europeans are used to. All of the restaurants are buffet style which in itself gets a bit tiring - breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner are all served this way and it could be a bit of a scrum to get the last piece of serrano ham !!!
Generally the evening meals were good, lunchtime was a bit like the leftovers from the night before, with toasted sandwiches, burgers and chips in addition...
The beach - the beach was beautiful, the sea was amazing. The WIND is far too strong !!! Everyone fashions their own wind breakers from the multitude of spare deck chairs and still you end up looking like a sand monster. Everything from the inside of your bellybutton to the tip of your eyelashes comes back thick with sand. On a less windy day you don't notice how strong the sand is - If you normally wear factor 15 choose 20 or 25, you won't feel yourself burn or even get hot and when you are walking round like a lobster in the evening you will wonder how on earth it happened - but you won't be on your own !!!
The pool, too many sunloungers really - they like to pack them in quite closely together and there is always someone walking around trying to get you to join in with Darts, Shooting, Aqua Aerobics, Gymnastics, Dance, blah blah a bit reminiscent of holiday camps as a child, but you never know with the power of the pina colada - you may enjoy it !
Evening entertainment - Barracuda was nice and relaxed a couple singing (- unfortunately the same set every night). The Cabaret was AWFUL, the poor animacion team who are up early and trying to get you involved in volleyball, football, ping pong etc throughout the day then have to put on a show and a different one every night, so it's no wonder that they have to mime and can't dance in time, they can't be expected to do everything ! The compere was the worst in the world - enough said. Schadenfreude is still a wonderful thing...
Anyway really, so far so good, we'd walked into town - we'd been hustled - nothing that you don't expect, but you still feel bad ignoring them ,so yes, we'd suckered for a dodgy purse made of coconuts and then learnt to shake our heads rather than say hello...
We'd also taken a fishing trip - which I've already written about under 'beware changeable weather', but on that day we had lost our visa card. I have also written about the importance of Euros under a separate entry so I won't go on about this here.
Anyway we had to use the hotel phone to cancel our visa card, we then realised we had no way of getting any money out. We checked with the hotel how much our phone bill was and were told €27, we were due to check out in 2 days and as the hotel was all inclusive we didn't need much else so we transferred €80 the minimum amount for Western Union and collected it.
On checking out of the hotel we were told that our phone bill was actually €268 and of course we had no VISA card to pay this extortionate charge. There had been no mention of the price of the calls on the phone or the literature and we had heard that mobiles were just as bad, so we were caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. The woman this time on reception was not so friendly, we explained our situation and she told us to speak to our rep. having booked through the internet we didn't have a rep, so she said that no-one could help us. She smugly told us that 8,000 escudos (€80) was nothing, I told her it was practically double what we had been told we needed and asked to speak to the manager.
Thankfully the manager was a really decent guy. we didn't have the time to arrange a western union transfer , due to flying out in a couple of hours and so I gave him my Visa card details - the card that I had left at home. They were unable to accept payment without the card present, they were unable to accept a bank transfer from internet banking, they didn't accept Maestro, Cirrus or American Express - the whole situation was a mess. We left taking their bank details so that we could transfer the money when we got back home. Of course now we are saddled with Escudos that no-one will change and we didn't need to get after all !
We were glad to leave in the end which was a shame because we had really had a great time for the first 4 or 5 days. Please don't let our experiences put you off visiting - but please make sure you take more than one method of payment plus euros, plenty of high factor suncream, a jumper for the evenings and be careful of the atlantic !!!
Take a kite
Returned this morning from a week in the Riu Garopa, Sal.
The first thing you need to know is that the area of Sal where the Riu Garopa is situated is WINDY.
It is also very barren with very sparce vegetation,giving a somewhat alien impression.
Our party of two married couples are fairly well travelled but had never previously booked an all inclusive resort.
We were all quite impressed by the quality and variety of the food on offer.
Despite some comments to the contrary most of the food is not fried .
Items like steak,chops,fish etc are prepared on an oiled griddle type hot plate at cooking stations directly behind the buffet counter,so you are able to watch as the food is prepared.
There was plenty of salad available at both lunch and dinner as well as the previously mentioned meats,fish etc.
They also occasionaly produced large joints (we saw pork and lamb) which were served "carvery" style.
Wine (red,white and Sangria) is available from self service dispensers at both lunch and dinner as well as lager and soft drinks.
The white wine was a little like Semillon blanc and quite acceptable.The red was also good,being similar to Rioja.
The beer is caller Strella and again perfectly acceptable.
We managed to get into three of the "speciality" restaurants by booking on the day of arrival,but didn't think the seating restrictions (two sittings,one at 7 and one at 9) were worth the only slightly different selection of food on offer.
The exception to this was the Mandalay asian restaurant which we all enjoyed but were unable to book for a second visit.
We found the pool area clean and well looked after but ,like the entire resort, very windy.
You had to tie down towels etc or they would blow away-even the chairs were seen to take off.
We avoided using the beach because any use of sunscreen quickly made you look like a sheet of sandpaper----boy is it windy.
Our rooms were fine,kept very clean by the maid (who we never saw) and all of the facilities worked very well.
We experienced no water outages or power failures at all.
As far as entertainment goes,there were things like "Aqua Gym" and water polo most days at the pool,if you like that sort of thing.
We found the main evening entertainment baffleing and amateurish.
The entire "production" was mimed to a tape and seemed to consist a troups of brightly dressed individuals walking on one side of the stage and off the other.
Having said that,it appeared to be popular with the (mainly non British) guests--------perhaps it was just us?
We preferred the duo in the Barracuda bar who did an acceptable ,if bland, middle of the road show----but if you are under about 45 it would probably bore you to tears.
As our visit was only for a week and purely a "chill out" we did no sight seeing other than a trip into Santa Maria.
The whole place resembles a gigantic construction site.
What with all the building and the WIND it was not a pleasant trip.
We came across another hotel featured in the brochure we used,the Odjo D'Agua, it lookes great in the brochure but is in fact surrounded on three sides by building work.
If Santa Maria was ever a quaint sea side town it certainly isn't today.
So,all in all,we enjoyed our week.
The food and the drinks were all very acceptable-you certainly won't go hungry or thirsty.
But a week was quite enough for us,and although I think we may try a Riu property in the future,it won't be in Cape Verde.
And by the way-did I mention ,it's WINDY?
Sandblasted and windswept
Just got back from 2 weeks at the Garopa and thought I'd share some of our comments.
Firstly on the whole the resort is of a good standard and has good facilities and a wide choice of food. The rooms were clean and pleasant. The beach is gorgeous, white sand and blue sea
The spa facilities were great
Everything was expensive!
It was VERY windy. VERY VERY windy. Sunbathing on the beach was really only possible if you made a windbreak out of the loungers and if you made the mistake of applying suncream while lying there the flying sand stuck firm giving you a rather interesting texture to your tan.
The sea was lovely but the currents can be very very strong. My husband and I are both very strong swimmers but a couple of times the waves and undertow meant we were in danger of being swept out to sea. Other days it wasn't so bad but it does go deep very quickly - beware if you have young kiddies.
Not much to see wildlife wise in the sea or on land unless you count the hotel cats!
There isn't much to see or do on Sal although the hotel does have an 'animation team' - we weren't that impressed. Santa Maria town is okay - but we couldn't get a trip to any of the other islands which was disappointing and after seeing lots of sand dunes on the quad tour we were rather stir-crazy.
On the whole - nice for a week of sunshine not far from home but don't expect too much - particularly from Sal which is basically just a sand bar ... and don't go for the shopping - its expensive!
Nice but definitively not a 5*
We've spent 10 days at Riu Garopa from dec 26th 2006, with my husband and my 5 years daughter.
First of all, if you have the choice, do not fly TAP to Sal and avoid stop over in Lisbon !
Uppon arrival, our luggage were lost. Next flight was planned the night after and luggage were finally delivered at the hotel 2 days later. The reception didn't inform us that luggage had arrived. We call the airport who informed they were already delivered !
With the new regulation (no liquid in the aircraft), even the beauty case was cheecked-in, so we had nothing at all for 2 days and nights (shop in the hotel is very expensive, but TAP allows 80 Euros per person, reimbursable at airport upon departure). Return flight was not better, operated by a charter company (was not planned) and this time all lockers were broken and luggage checked without our authorisation. Apparently, it happens very often !!!
Be careful if you buy "liquids" at the tax free shop of the airport. They do not seal the bags (new rules in almost all countries) and you'll have problems if you have a connecting flight in Europe (you will not be allowed to take it in the aircraft)
Here are some comments
1° The room
We booked a standard room which was big enough for us 3 (plenty of cupboards and drawers). Nice furniture and deco but do not expect anything exceptional.
Bathroom is nice and spacious. Bring a hairdryer along, cause the one provided is very weak, especially if you have long hair.
The room was situated in block 6 which is ideally situated (close to the pool, sea view).
Cleaning was approximate and never done before 3PM. January is very windy and there was sand all over, even in the room.
Rooms aren't soundproof at all, hope your neighbours are not too noisy !
Almost every day, we hat cuts of water (especially round 7PM). Have some bottles of water close to the shower just in case !
Buffet are large, with choice, but repetitive. Most food was fried or cooked with a huge quantity of butter ! Impossible to find something just grilled. Even vegetables were swimming in grease. Fortunately, there was a large salad buffet.
There are 3 "à la carte" restaurants, but unfortunately, but we could no try them (they are almost always fully booked).
Due to heavy wind, there was lot of sand in the pool. Pool area is nice, with lot of sunchairs. There is no food or drink service at the pool, so most of people bring things from bars and restaurants and then leave their plates, glasses and cups. By the end of the day, the floor is sprinkled with dirty dishes and with ants and bees !
Beach is amazing ! Dunes of sands sink up to the sea. It's beautiful ! Clear water and gold sand. You can walk along for hours !
There are some african selling souvenirs (shells, handcrafts, ...), and women braiding hair, but hotel security keeps them away from the area of the the hotel. Most of them are very nice people trying to earn some money. They appreciate little gifts (bottle of shampoo, soap, ...) and food. They are not agressive at all. You can feel secure (we left our bag on the beach while bathing).
Beaches are public so there can be poeple from outside the hotel.
There are a few min to walk from the hotel to the beach, but max 5. Then from the entrance of the beach to the sea, you have to walk on the sand for a few meters. It's not ideal with a non-walking baby, unless you have a 4x4 stroller ! But once on the beach, it's great.
There is just one shower at the entrance of the beach where you can rinse your feet.
Employees are nice but lazy. Do not expect too much from them. Most of them speak only Portuguese, but they do their best to understand ! Entertainment team is very active. Their are lot of activities to do but if you wish to relax, they do not bother you
In general, it's a nice place. But I cannot believe it's only a few months old. It looks like a 3-4 years hotel. It's probably due to the heavy sandy wind.
There are a few shops in the lobby but they are very expensive. You can find the same things in Santa Maria (5min by taxi, 3 Euros) cheaper.
Changing money at the reception of the hotel seems to be very difficult for them. Or the cashier was closer, either they were not allowed : in ten day we have not been able to change money (some days were off due to the new year... but...). Euros are accepted everywhere so you do not really need local change.
7° The Island
To tell you truth, we didn't visit the island, except the village of Santa Maria, which is very typical. People are very nice and you feel secure walking around. There are some great spots by the sea.
In general, we had a good and relaxing holiday. Cape Verde is a good compromise : not to far from Europe, nice weather...
I found the hotel overpriced, but it was due to the fact that we spent new year there. I would recommend this hotel for people who are not too demanding. It's a nice all inclusive resort, but definitively not a 5* as mentionned.
Fell free to ak me further questions !
My holiday Experiance at the Riu
We had booked 2 weeks at the Riu Garopa flying from Dublin with Falcon holidays , we departed on the 28th December 2006, this was our experiance; We arrived late at the airport in Sal, it took us 2 hours to collect our luggage but what took the time was getting the Visa, not really a problem to us as we were very excited but if we go again we will get one before we fly.
There was me & my husband and our son who is 7 years old.
After a short bus ride to the hotel we had finally arrived, if you want a Taxi it's about 7 to 10 euro one way and there are plenty.
We were met at reception with bottled water and our tags put on our wrists, by this time it was about 2am, we had a quick look round the reception area and spotted the dining room, we were invited in for some food and drink which we thought was great, the dining room is lovely and the food excellent.
Our rooms were spacious with balcony, plenty of draws and wardrobe space, air con, safety deposit, extra cusions, blankets were all included in the price.you don't need to spend another penny in the hotel, everything you need is there and paid for.
We could not fault the food or drink at all, the rooms were very nice but not 5* to Carribean standards, we would say 4* but still excellent.
Staff were polite and helpful , spoke little English but we should try a bit harder too.
Free water from reception when you want it and clean pool towels when you want them.
We had no need to change money as they like Euro's, taxi out side hotel cost 3 euro to Santa Maria,make sure you have change (available from hotel reception) as the taxi's usually don't.
Entertainment for kids was great, evening entertainment for adults was good but no kareoke or games just animation staff putting shows on which got on your nerves a bit after 1st week, though they were good.
Can't fault the weather at all, just put cardigan or something on in the evening as the breeze and get a bit cool, nice in the day though.
The only real down side to the hotel was them charging 9 euro per minute for the use of the phone, I ended up with a 102 euro bill at the end for using the phone for 10 minutes, so beware!
The Island it's self is really just like a desert, beautiful though, if you want somewhere hot, and relaxing this is the place to go in winter.
I hope you find my review helpful and I would definatly go back again.by the way we had to be out of the room at 11am the day we departed, we were not flying until 11pm, you may stay in your room until 6pm for an extra 30 euro, but if you don't want to there are excellent showers, hairdryer and toiletries off the reception area which we used free of chargeand you can eat and drink until your coach/taxi picks you up to go back to the airport.
Riu Funanna/Garopa, Sal, Cape Verde
We had booked in July for the Riu hotel complex for two weeks in December, after reading some of the reviews on site I really thought I had made a big mistake! However the reality was very different - the island of Sal is totally barren (I expected this because I had read up on Sal beforehand) the trip in the jeeps is worth doing, because you do see the only interesting bits of Sal all in one go. A hire car or jeep would not have been a good idea because there are few signposts (except on major roads only two of these, the rest are dirt tracks, so I imagine a do it yourself could be a nightmare!)
The beach is lovely yellow sand and sand dunes, big breakers, so take care, there is a flag system in operation, Red does mean don't go into the sea (although there seemed to be many who ignored the flag and the whistles of the beach patrol) yellow means with caution and frankly unless you are a good swimmer this can be tricky, on green days the water was wonderful, wam and clean.
The hotel was excellent, not five star as advertised but my travel company had stated this before we booked so no surprises there, the room was big and very clean with excellent maid service,
The food was all buffet but a brillent selection, the speciality resturants were OK but it would have been nice to have had one which was waiter served. I like another reviwer was not keen on the Asian (with the exception of the sushi), but the Capo Verde was good, the grill could vary depending upon the night of the visit.
The entertainment team worked very hard, some bits were execellent, some not so good, but a great deal of effort was put in by all the team.
Yes, we did not have wall to wall sunshine, 4 days of being overcast and dull, and a big sand storm (the maids really worked hard to clean up all the sand) however it was constantly warm and when the sun was out it was lovely. The pool areas where excellent with heated and non heated pools, I found the non heated fine for swimming in and less crowded, the children perferred the heated pool!!
Many people and our on site rep. did mention about tummy upsets, when you run a big complex and have a quick change over of guests this can pose a problem, however if like us you made sure handwashing was a rule, and ate garlic, it seemed possible to avoid (also don't overdo the free brooze ). We were fine the whole time.
The ultimate test. Would we return, yes if we wanted guanteed warm weather, good hotel and a reasonably short flight. But if we are looking for interesting places to visit and good sea swimming not the place to go. However Yes I would love to return and hopefully the island won't become wall to wall all inclusive hotels, because I think that might spoil it. The cape Verdians are lovely shy gentle peoplle.
If the many people we met on the holiday read this Hi to you all it was lovely to meet you, and thanks for the company on holiday, and thank you to all the staff at the Riu and those who dealt with our belated flight home because of the fog, we had an extra day in the sun!
The Hotel is not for anyone seeking good food and wine. The quality of both is terrible. Pork was regularly offered with blood dripping from the chop bones and all the fresh food is fried not grilled. You cannot buy a bottle of wine in any of the Hotel bars or restaurants. The Cabo Verde "speciality" fish restaurant is particularly bad with all the "fresh" fish fried and then laid out on large plates to become cold before you can eat it. This applies to all "hot" food and it is amusing to watch all the guests waitng for something to be fried and then the rush to get it.
Senior management in the Hotel do nothing to address complaints about the food, the lack of service (there is none you have to serve yourself in all the restaurants) theft from rooms, laundry going missing etc etc etc.
Within 24 hours of arrival we discovered that (if you are persistant) you can buy Cava at reception but you must have it delivered to your room and then take it to the bars and restaurants with you each evening!!!!
I managed to get (and keep) one of the few ice buckets they have and carried it with me every evening. Lots of guests approched us full of envy asking us where we found the Cava! They were desperate to find something other than the wine from the taps to drink.
Christmas dinner was a farce. One of the managers took us on a tour of every (120+) tables in the restaurant and still did not find our table that we had booked for 6 of us. The Hotel had made us queue for 30+ minutes to book a table before Christmas day and then we had to queue for another 30+ minutes to get into the restaurant. It was mayhem. There were long queues at every serving point and in the end I had smoked salmon to start, smoked salmon and chips for my main course and smoked salmon and cheese for desert. The "chefs" were frying pork but it was raw in the middle and the turkey (processed not fresh) was so overcooked it simply fell apart but anyway it was cold so no-one wanted to eat it!!
The Management Team were in attendance but all they could say was that they had never tried to do a reservation sitting and would not try to do it again!! They were told about the raw pork but did nothing and the raw pork was still offered to guests. We returned on the 28th December and from the 8 couples on the sharabang back to the airport (not a bus by any European standatd) at least 3 are instructing solicitors to act on their behalf to claim compensation from their tour operator. We paid to upgrade to Star Class on the flight but it was like cattle class. A standard Easyjet flight is like British Airways 1st class in comparison. In my opinion the tour companies are hiding behind the fact that Cape Verde is 3rd World and they have downgraded their offering accordingly. It is not even close to European 4* it is closer to 2* It is simply sub standard in every way.
I would not go back to the Rui Garopa even if you paid me to go. Avoid it like the plague.
Great Hotel - Shame about the weather!!
Stayed at the Riu Garopa for a week in early December 2006 and were very happy with the standard of rooms, choice of food and facilities.
Cape Verde boasts 'almost 365 days of sunshine a year' I can confirm that in 2006 there were less than 360 days of sunshine as the sun didn't appear for 5 days of our stay! This is apparently common for that time of year so please be aware that sunshine isn't guaranteed. That said, those who stayed there the week before were lovely and tanned so I guess we were unlucky. And the 2 days of sunshine we had were glorious.
The beach is lovely, the loungers and parasols are plentiful and there's a bar on the beach which is an added bonus. I've read some reviews of the Funana that complain that the beach is too far away. Unfortunately, when you stay in a 1000 room resort something is going to be relatively further away than something else - be it the restaurants, swimming pool or the beach. For us, in the Garopa (further away from the beach than the Funana), the beach was a few minutes walk away and it wasn't a chore by any stretch of the imagination. We were on holiday and weren't rushing off anywhere else.
The swimming pools are excellent and there is a good choice of cafes and restaurants within the Garopa and Funana next-door.
There are a couple of restaurants you need to book in advance for and these generally fill up early. As a guide we booked on the day of arrival and couldn't get a table for 4 days in any of them. The Cabo Verde fish grill was pretty good but the food in the Mandalay Asian restaurant was pretty awful. Very salty and dry.
We took our 2 year old toddler with us but there's little on-site for kids to do. There's a small toddler pool however there's no shelter around it so I would imagine that if we had seen some sun, he wouldn't have spent long in the pool before burning up. There's also a supposed kids club housed in two turtle-shaped buildings although the staff haven't quite got the hang of what to do. They certainly don't engage with the children beyond a hello and the only activity is sitting around drawing which can get a bit boring.
Because of the weather we were tempted into Santa Maria on one day. Unfortunately the town didn't seem to have anything of charm or interest although the beach promenade back to the hotel was a nice, but blustery, walk.
Garopa, better than expected
We stayed at the Garopa for a week at the beginning of December 2006, and overall were very impressed with this new hotel.
We were originally booked in the Morabeza. However, on arriving at the Morabeza we found a lot of building work going on and were shown a very "tired" room so decided to rearrange things and stay at the Garopa.
We had some reservations at first never having stayed in a hotel of this size, 500 rooms and another 500 in the Funana next door, but can say we never felt it was overcrowded. The hotel had only opened the previous month but was being operated efficiently and to a high standard.
The main restaurant ,and the speciality restaurants, provided a good range of quality food , with plenty of fruit and vegetables. Hygiene standards also appeared high , very important with buffet style restaurants.
We had no problems with noise and enjoyed the walk to what was an excellent beach. You can walk along the beach to Santa Maria in under an hour or in the other direction if you want seclusion.
Sal is a barren ,featureless island, not the place to come to if you enjoy sightseeing or shopping. We hired a 4 x4 for a days sightseeing and felt safe on the island , never threatened. It has fabulous windswept beaches and now is the time to go before the big developments spoil the place.
If you want a beach holiday or enjoy watersports, with guaranteed sunshine in a high standard hotel the Garopa is the place for you!
We were due to stay at the Odjo D'Agua but after one night at the start of our holiday decided we wanted something more reliable and therefore changed to the Riu Garopa.
The Garopa had just been opened a few weeks but you would not have known it - typical 'sound' Riu standards which we have enjoyed on many occasions before.
This is one of the Riu's Clubhotels so quite family friendly - though when we travelled there were very few children. The standard of food was good with a great range of dishes - as we had expected.
The sister hotel sits immediately adjacent and the grounds of the Funana were a year more mature - but in the wonderful climate the Garopa will soon catch up!
The beach was lovely with the opportunity for some great walks.
If you want to tip take plenty of small euro denominations - getting change did not seem to be easy.
The staff were extremely friendly and well trained - to say most of their visitors to date have been Portuguese, German, French and Italian their standard of English was very good.
The Riu website is excellent so rather than go through all the facilities I suggest you use the link :
They say CV is an emerging tourist destination - Sal has very little to offer those wanting sightseeing but you cannot complain about the climate. However, just a word of warning about the breeze/wind, which, in the main, was a delight - contact wearers beware of the dust in the air on windy days.
We would go back when we wanted a week of reliable warm weather and high standard of service only 6 hours flight from England.
TripAdvisor Reviews ClubHotel Riu Garopa Santa Maria
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